Forever Faithfull: Memories From The Road featuring Lila Barzegar
Lila Barzegar Retraces Pearl Jam Memories From The Road
Forever Faithfull is a series derived from daily Facebook posts on the Pearl Jam Podcast Community group. These tour stories were shared by Lila Barzegar. She’ll detail developing her fandom with the chagrin of her siblings, and recount her favorite travel adventures.
6/23/1998 – I Am A Patriot – Englewood, CO
My love for Pearl Jam was sparked when I pressed my ear against the door of my brother’s room one afternoon (no Lilas allowed) when he was playing Garden in his bedroom.
I was about 12 and didn’t know what to do with myself. He and my sister were fans, but since I was their kid sister, I wasn’t allowed to engage in anything they liked or remotely thought was cool. So having a discussion about going to a show with them wasn’t even within reason. I was more likely to get permission to get a tattoo on my face than permission to tag along to a show. The closest I came was when we picked them up, still glistening and grinning, from the epic 1995 Red Rocks show. I still have the Scarab Beetle ticket stub in a box.
So I quietly signed up for the Vitalogy Health Club and began to receive newsletters and merch order forms; I crawled inside their albums, purchased No Code with my own money, and stole my brother’s World Tour shirt. He’s still not happy about that. It wasn’t until 1998 that I got a chance to request tickets for their Colorado show (scribbled anxiously on a post card) and attend a show. My brother reluctantly agreed to take me, and he drove us to my first tailgate where I was given a handbill that was haphazardly created on a copy machine (“It’s Not Eddie, It’s You” still hung up in my basement).
I managed to score 8th row seats, lined up directly in front of Ed’s mic, which earned me a loving punch in the arm from my brother for being so close. They opened with Long Road, a song I had no idea about at the time, electrified us with a Brain of J, which I had always called Brian of J and thought, “Who the hell is Brian?”, got a customized MFC for Denver, played an I Got Shit where I switched from punching the air to swaying, and gave me Leaving Here, a song I wanted to play afterwards for a boy who I had a crush on for not noticing me. I thought the show as over.
THEN, to end the show, Ed surprisingly came out for a solo and played I Am a Patriot. A request made by the people behind us wielding an obnoxious sign with loud capital letters. I had never heard it, so I didn’t know what to expect. I think they had only played it a handful of times by then, BUT it was the perfect, sultry end to a show I have ever experienced. It felt authentic and vibrant and powerful and froze everything around me. Nothing existed but Ed and his plucking and his fumbling and his soaring vocals that found their way into the clouds.
To this day, if I feel any overwhelming anxiety, or trapped, or a need to just leave the moment I’m in, I’ll play that song off of a bootleg I bought from my local record store on CD.
11/29/2013 – Infallible – Portland, OR
I’m going to jump to the Lightning Bolt Tour of 2013. It had been a few years since I was able to see them live, so when tickets dropped for a Portland Show, my soul-mate-best-friends’ home town, we jumped on the opportunity to take a trip outside of Colorado to make the show. The only variable that we didn’t take into account was that we decided to rescue a German Shepherd between ticket purchase and show date. So, flying was not an option.
The solution: road trip.
We rented a Cadillac Escalade, arranged two GSDs in the back, packed it with sandwiches and pickles, then left at 12:30 in the morning after our friend closed the bar she was working at. The four of us rotated shifts during the 20-hour drive, only stopping to let the dogs out and grabbing coffee in strategic intervals so we could make it one stint. The things you are able to do while you’re still relatively young! When we arrived, it was surprisingly not raining and we geared up for merch. Now, it had been years since I had tackled the PJ merch scene, so I wasn’t mentally prepared for the 3-hour wait to grab posters and shirts, still one of the most badass posters to date. BUT, as always, it’s worth the suffering and complaining.
If you have never been to the Rose Garden (I will never refer to it as the Moda Center), it’s a super cool venue. Situated in a little bit of an industrial area, which is now gentrified, we luckily found parking near a steel bridge and got in just in time for the Pendulum opener. Back when Pearl Jam played two encores, the 34-song show was epic. The energy of the Pacific Northwest is unmatched, and I felt lucky to even be in the building in our nose-bleed seats on Mike’s side.
The song that stuck out to me for that show, which I would love to hear again, was Infallible. If you have been lucky enough to hear it 1 of the 22 times they’ve played it live, you know how mesmerizing the guitar riffs and solos are arranged when hearing it in person. You can really hear each instrument playing, the chorus lyrics, Ed’s vocals, and chord combination hits you with its beautiful complexity. I’ve always felt like it was such a transitional song, particularly with how its placed on the track list of the album.
So, this memory was also deliberately picked, in part, in hopes of willing the Universe for a 2023 setlist write in as it will mark a decade since I last heard the boys play it.
10/22/2014 – The 38-Song Set – Denver, CO
38 SONGS, PEOPLE!!!!
Pepsi Center is my home venue when it comes to arenas, and once PJ got too big for Red Rocks and Fiddler’s, that’s where they now saddle up to play. I had the worst seats of all recorded time. I could literally touch the tiles of the roof in the back of the arena. BUT I couldn’t have been happier to have been in the building.
This show crossed off so many songs on my list: Setting Forth, Eruption, Of the Earth, and Sleight of Hand. My highlight of the night was when Ed gave a shoutout to us in the back and offered his wine to a guy in a row near us. That’s something I’ve always appreciated about him: he always gives love to those in the far back and behind the stage. And after a few shows, I will gladly take behind the stage rather than the far back.
The show was so good, I can’t pinpoint my highlight, so here’s the whole thing!
8/18/2018 – Alone – Wrigley Field
Ever since Pearl Jam played Wrigley in 2013, I told my husband that I would love to throw a show on our bucket list. My husband is amazing. We love music, food, and travel. We strive to gain experiences and not just accumulate “things”. He’s pretty damn cool. So, when it was in the stars for us to score tickets for both shows in 2018, we put in our request for work leave and started looking for places we could eat while staying in Chi-Town. Side Note: Pequod’s is the best deep-dish pizza we’ve ever had, and we’re huge pizza snobs.
Walking into Wrigleyville is like being physically transported into a piece of Americana. It’s hard to describe the history and neighborhood vibe of the area. We come from a place where the Colorado Rockies play in a “new park” and is arranged amongst hipster restaurants and bars. Wrigley lives amongst 1900’s built single-family homes; laundry hanging out front and kids’ yard toys strewn on the lawns and sidewalks. We were lucky enough to wiggle our way inside Murphy’s for a drink before the show with people spilling out into the street in every which way, screaming at friends across the street. Those who had camped for GA were getting restless as people swarmed their queue area, and being agitated that their camping space was getting interrupted.
My buddy had a low 10C number and was able to get seats right behind GA, so walking onto the field to get a player’s point of view was thrilling to say the least. I have never been much of a baseball fan, again, our city’s team is the Rockies, and the winning seasons of the 90s are long gone.
The boys opened with Wash and set the tone that the night was going to be a heater. Some treats we were given was a powerful Breakerfall, an always appreciated Not For You, encore 1 with some classics and a solid rendition of Know Your Rights rounded out the main bases. We even got the debut of Rebel Rebel in Encore 2 which blew everyone’s mind; people just stood in shock for the opening seconds, trying to orient themselves.
My highlight of the evening was Alone It has always been in my Top songs to spin and I absolutely love Lost Dogs with Sad being my all-time favorite, so getting it right after a soul moving Do the Evolution was emotional. To get that and a Wash opener made my first time at Wrigley truly one for the books. I’ve never heard it live since, but again, 2023 tour has me crossing my fingers.
9/18/2022 – Of The Girl – St. Louis, MO
For my last experience, I was torn between MSG and STL of the 2022 tour. This run was particularly important to so many because we had finally emerged out of the darkness of COVID, clutching concert tickets we had held onto since the promise of a 2020 tour. There was an incredible frenzy and energy when flights and hotels were booked, chat threads were booming and meet-ups became promises to finally reunite with old friends and new.
Gigaton reception was also a topic of constant bickering on Facebook groups. Wavering factions of those who hated it, those who loved it, and those who just wanted a damn tour. But as the saying goes, ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop’(also related, I am still looking to cross off “Satan’s Bed” from my list). May was an anxious time for those who were waiting their turn for the September run in the States since California shows were riddled with uncertainty: band members getting quarantined, guest drummers sitting in for the show to go on, to outright cancellations like Las Vegas where we all went anyways and got COVID, but Karaoke night was epic, so I would totally do it again.
I was fortunate enough to have tickets to MSG, Nashville, STL and Denver that tour, and hell or high water, I was going to manage to get to all those shows. MSG was the show I was most excited for. I had never been there, and I craved to feel the bouncing energy of the venue. I often watched old shows on YouTube in their entirety and could feel the energy through shaky cam recordings. AND, It was absolutely everything I hoped it would be. We sat behind stage, and seeing the sea of people as the band did added an intensity to Do the Evolution, that I felt like I was levitating. From the outside, the setlist probably didn’t seem impressive, but to this day, it was the most energetic, vibrant show I have ever experienced.
However, what won for this write up was St. Louis. I didn’t have good seats. Parts of St. Louis are sketchy at best. And I had a breakfast burrito that will haunt my dreams. But what did make my dreams come true was that I FINALLY GOT OF THE GIRL AND SAD. If you ask anyone in my close Pearl Jam friend group what I was hoping to hear in my blip on this earth’s timeline, they would say it was one of these two songs. I have a handful of PJ songs I run to when I need to get my mind and soul straight, but these are #1 and #2 on the list.
When the boys took the stage, began to fiddle with their instruments, and pieced together the intro, I stood in absolute disbelief that they were forming the notes for Of the Girl. My eyes began to water and my mouth twisted in happy, distorted disbelief. All I could utter was, “They’re fucking playing it!”. Then I immediately crumpled into myself. I lived in absolute euphoria that 3 minutes and 31 seconds. Nothing could possibly top it.
THEN, they decided to completely dismantle me and threw in Sad, which I didn’t think they would play since they gave it to Hamilton a couple weeks earlier. The opening riff automatically made me start jumping up and down, screaming from the depths of all I had. I clumsily tried to text my friend Debbie Strozier, who I spoke to almost every night of the shows that leg. She was also aching for it, and Ed dedicated it to her after her dedicated efforts to reach the band, but my fingers wouldn’t listen to my brain.
This was the show of the tour. I was with amazing friends and got an amazing setlist. Hope you all enjoyed my stories and hope to see you out on tour this year!
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